Violin Sonata No.1 in G Major, Op.13
Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was one of the great piano virtuosi of the 19th century with a technique said to rival that of Liszt. He also gained renown as a composer and conductor. Rubinstein was one of those rare concert virtuosi whose contribution to music went far beyond performing. In 1862, he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory and served as its first director. His efforts in developing Russian musical talent were perhaps the greatest of any single individual. Not only did he introduce European educational methods but he also established standards that were as rigorous as any conservatory in Europe.
While Rubinstein's compositions were extremely popular during his lifetime, after his death, they were criticized because they showed "no Russian influence" and were viewed as derivatives of prominent European contemporaries, especially of Mendelssohn. Despite the fact that commentator after commentator has repeated this assertion, almost as if it were a litany, it is nonetheless not entirely accurate. Although he was not part of the so-called emergent Russian national school as led by Rimsky Korsakov, it is not true that there is no Russian influence to be found in his music. This influence is just not as pronounced as in the works of Borodin, Mussorgsky or of Korsakov himself. However, listeners to Rubinstein's works will not only hear the influence of Mendelssohn, but also hear Russian melody and rhythm of the sort used by Borodin and others 20 years later.
Rubinstein's First Violin Sonata was composed in 1851 but was not published until 5 years later. In four movements. The opening, Allegro con moto opens with a lovely, flowing theme full of forward motion. Next comes an Andante, moderato, allegro. It begins with a stately, reflective theme, perhaps a Russian folk melody. The racing and exciting middle section could not present more of a contrast. The third movement, Presto, is an upbeat, dominated by its strongly accented rhythms. The finale, Allegro vivace, has for its main theme a highly romantic, long-lined melody. The second theme, is equally lyrical, played over a highly effective, rushing piano accompaniment.
This big sonata is sure to make a tremendous impression in recital and we hope that violinists will give this fine work every consideration.